Rizal still alive, relevant to look-alikes
CALAMBA CITY — At first glance, one would think that Jose Neri, 57, a local vendor, was national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal back from the dead and walking around the premises of Rizal’s ancestral house, now “Museo ni Rizal” (Rizal Museum), clad in dark-colored slacks and coat, book in hand.
Neri won this year’s Rizal look-alike contest held during the celebration of the national hero’s 156th birth anniversary. Neri, the oldest of this year’s contestants, said he always won the title since the contest was launched in 2014.
This year, Neri competed against four other contestants, among them an incoming grade 10 student Keanu Gabriel Destura, 14, the youngest contender. Neri was urged by his nephew to join, while Destura was inspired by his teacher.
Not only do Neri and Destura emulate Rizal physically, but they also strive to be like the national hero in their actions and in their everyday lives.
Destura admires Rizal for his patriotism, resolve, and willingness to give his life for the country.
“Respect for his fellowmen, that is what I apply to myself, also being humble,” said Neri.
“He is usually the youth’s inspiration, and he also serves as a model for the youth in doing good deeds,” Destura said.
“Maybe if Rizal were still alive, he would not allow the unrest that is happening now. He really wanted peace,” said Neri.
“Jose Rizal was the first to believe in the power of paper and pen to rouse from slumber our fellowmen during the time of enslavement and cruelty by the Spanish,” said Laguna governor Ramil Hernandez in a message during the celebration.
“Rizal had a mission—to make people realize that we should be united first before we can be great,” said Professor Dwight David Diestro, who taught the mandatory history course about Rizal’s life and works at the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
However, Rizal’s mission is yet to be realized. Diestro added, “The struggle is within. Our worst enemy is ourselves, for he said, ‘A people can be independent without being free.’” SFM
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